The Many Faces Of Freedom

In A Sedentary View, Columns, Features by Gregory Banks

Freedom encompasses many things. The freedom to live one’s life how one chooses. The freedom to live where one chooses. The freedom to express one’s opinion, whatever it may be. But freedom is also a responsibility, a right that we are given with an accompanying price.

Freedom is something we often have to fight for, sometimes against others who should be fighting with us instead of against us. Freedom, in a sense, is merely the right to live life to its fullest, and it seems like every human being would agree with such things.

And yet there are those who wish to oppress our rights, who think that our rights should be guided by their own overriding beliefs, needs, or wants. In the course of history, people have been enslaved for the “freedom” of business and trade. People of some ethnic groups have been denigrated and discriminated against in the name of “freedom” for other races.

Millions of people have died to defend freedom, to acquire freedom, and even to suppress freedom. And ironically, some people have even fought for the freedom simply to die when and how they choose.

I think we often take freedom for granted, as if it’s a God-given right that is owed to us. Able-bodied people especially do this, as they never think about how hard it is to get around when you have some sort of disability, until it happens to them of course.

I don’t mean to suggest that the world doesn’t have compassion and empathy, because I see much more of it today than when I was a child. And yes, we have “laws” that supposedly require certain allowances for the disabled.

But why is it then that I can still go to malls and see ramps that are located a thousand miles from where I need to go? Why is it that I could never enter most stores if someone wasn’t there to open the door for me?

Why do so many still see the disabled as living lives that are less fulfilling than the able bodied, when they themselves are plagued with as many issues of body image and self esteem as we are?

And why is it so hard for the disabled to acquire the very basic necessities, such as medical equipment and monetary resources that we need just to be productive contributors to society like everyone else?

July 4th is about the day the United States declared its freedom from British oppression. But the fight for freedom started long before, and has gone on long afterward, still raging on in many forms today.

It’s sad to think that so many of us have to continue to fight for the most simplest of freedoms, but it’s imperative that we keep doing so.

A lot of us find ourselves fighting for our very lives each and every day in one form or another.

In fact, I’ve spent my entire life fighting to be free to live my life the way I see fit, and though it gets hard sometimes, frustrating at others, I’ve managed to bring many of my own hopes and dreams to life, and I still have high hopes to make even more come true in the future.

Freedom is worth fighting against the odds for, just as life is worth living despite its many hardships.

Although I don’t think of myself as someone whose purpose in life is to lead and/or inspire others, I guess that’s what all of us are here for in one way or another. Despite all the fractures I suffered in my childhood, the operations, the dreams I had that seemed as if they would never come true, and all the ones that still haven’t come to pass yet, I can’t remember ever feeling the desire to give up.

I’ve always believed that the things I want out of life are out there, waiting until I’m ready for them. I’m not as free as I’d like to be, but at least I am free enough to continue striving for to be.

Freedom is a precious thing, and all of us should cherish it, even when it seems beyond our grasp. I hope and pray that others will see the things I’ve accomplished in life so far, and the things I accomplish in the future, and feel the same.